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Georgia Tech vs. Pitt: The Advanced Preview

The Jackets travel to Pitt in hopes of grabbing their first conference win and moving out of last place in the ACC. We'll dive into the metrics to see if there's a chance...

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Tech (9-7) Pitt (12-5)
Total Power Rating 18.8 20.2
Offensive Power Rating 17.3 19.8
Defensive Power Rating 20.3 20.7
RPI .5742 .5635
Effective FG% 45.3% 48.2%
Effective FG% Defense 48.2% 48.1%
Offensive Efficiency 105.2 114.8
Defensive Efficiency 101.8 105.5
Efficiency Differential +3.4 +9.3
Defensive Rebound % 75.1% 68.3%
Offensive Rebound % 40.5% 38.9%
Turnover Ratio 16.2% 13.8%
Opponent Turnover Ratio 17.1% 16.3%
Foul Line Rate 21.6% 25.3%
Opponent Foul Line Rate 26.3% 22.3%
Average Pace 73.7 69.0

Using these advanced stats, we get a clearer picture of just how this game will play out. The total power rating is a statistic designed by me that adds in the four factors (eFG%, OffReb%, TO%, FL%) for offense and the inverse (eFG%D, DefReb%, OppTO%, OppFL%) for defense; RPI- a true measure for strength of schedule and the rating differential. If any of the other categories seem confusing, I’ve attached a Basketball Stat Glossary here.

The good news: I'm 5-0 straight up when picking Georgia Tech basketball games this year. The bad news: Georgia Tech is 1-4 in those games. Now you have to give credit where it's due, because it's not like Tech is getting blown out in these conference games. The Yellow Jackets have lost their first four ACC games by a combined total of 17 points, all four in which Tech had a lead at some point. So what's it going to take for the boys from the flats to get their first win?

Maybe it just takes the right opponent, which Tech may finally have this Saturday against Pitt. The Panthers play a similar style to Tech by slowing the ball down at half court. No other ACC team the Yellow Jackets have played this year has been a half court team, so maybe fighting fire with fire is the right way to go? At this point I'll reach for anything, so without further ado let's get to the metrics.

Pitt Overview

Pitt's 12-5 record is impressive on the face, but when you look between the lines it's a bit hollow. Like Tech, the Panthers started out well out of conference by going 10-3 with wins over Kansas State and Florida Gulf Coast. However, Kansas State is their best RPI win at 110. Not a single win in the top 100. What's even more telling is their losses. Three of their five losses have come in the RPI top 50 to San Diego State, Indiana and NC State. So, Pitt can beat up on the little guys but run from the big bullies (the three top 50 losses came at a combined 47 points).

So where does that leave Tech? The only real "tweener" team Pitt has played is Clemson whom they lost a 71-62 contest to. The two teams are not all that different when you look at the numbers. Both teams are strong on the offensive glass, play a slow pace and allow other teams to shoot the ball well. However, neither of these teams are great shooting squads. So just like in the Wake Forest game, something will have to give for either sides offense.

Things Pitt does especially well: take care of the ball. Only 13.8 percent of Pitt's possessions end in a turnover, which is crucial when you're averaging only 69 possessions a game. Basically, Pitt makes their possessions count. A quarter of the Panthers possessions end in a trip to the foul line and convert 71.7 percent of their charity shots. Where Pitt is weak: the Panthers aren't very strong on the defensive glass at 68.3 percent, which is bad news when facing a fierce offensive rebounding team like Tech. It could be the key for the Yellow Jackets picking up their first ACC win in 2014.

Georgia Tech Overview

Believe it or not, Tech led and seriously outplayed the No.12 team in the country just three days ago. It was truly astonishing to see Tech play so well, considering they seem to do everything right but shooting. When Tech is hitting though, they are so very tough to beat. But that is easier said than done as Tech is the worst effective shooting team in the conference at 45.3 percent. There are 86 teams in the country that have regular field goal percentages better than 45.3.

As I've been harping on all season, the main reason Tech has such a low effective shooting percentage is their inability to shoot three's. Or perhaps, it's that they're taking too many three's. Take this 62-59 Notre Dame loss from this week for example. Tech normally shoots 16 three's a game but Wednesday the Yellow Jackets only shot 10. They made five of those 10 for a season high 50 percent shooting percentage. If Tech focuses their energy inside and leave the long shooting to kick outs, we'll see many more competitive games from the Yellow Jackets here on out.

As touched on earlier, Tech is a strong offensive rebounding team going against a not-so-good defensive rebounding team in Pitt. The Panthers lack considerable beef on the interior, although power forward Michael Young is having good sophomore season averaging 13.9 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game. He'll have to deal with DeMarco Cox and Charles Mitchell virtually by himself as Jamel Artis has struggled on the boards early on. This game will be a battle of possessions, so the rebounding factor will be key in this one.

The Starting Five PER

Georgia Tech Pitt
G: Josh Heath - 7.8 G: Chris Jones - 10.2
G: Corey Heyward - 5.1 G: Cameron Wright - 11.4
F: Marcus Georges-Hunt - 13.9 G: James Robinson - 12.7
F: Charles Mitchell - 14.2 F: Michael Young - 19.0
C: DeMarco Cox - 16.1 F: Jamel Artis - 12.8
Team Average: 11.1 Team Average: 12.7

The Prediction

Georgia Tech has a legitimate opportunity here to pull an upset on the road. Pitt has struggled in conference play and is in a big look-ahead spot with Duke and Louisville coming up back-to-back. Rebounding played a key role against Notre Dame and could be a deciding factor in this game. However, in the end Pitt's backcourt has a big advantage over Georgia Tech. In the Notre Dame game Jerian Grant tore up Tech's guards in crunch time, which I could see James Robinson doing as well. So, my final for this contest is:

Line: (-5.5) Pitt via sportsbook.ag

Final: Pitt 58, Georgia Tech 56